Mazie Galle admits that she didn’t always have visions of gingerbread dancing in her head, but when she accepted the position of pastry chef for the restaurants at the rebooted Chequit Hotel, she began her ambitious dream of a sweet holiday structure. “I’ve been thinking about making this gingerbread house ever since I took the job,” she laughs.
On December 10th, right in time for brunch with Santa at the circa 1872 hotel and eatery, Galle and her merry band of sugar-happy elves (which include her mom and dad, Elizabeth and Michael Galle, who’ve lent a hand in all aspects of the cookie construction, as well as Chequit server Roberta Cooke) will reveal the first-ever gingerbread replica of the Chequit.
The materials for the job are enough to give Francois Payard pause: Among them, 6 pounds of flour, 5 pounds of snow caps, 3 pounds of ribbon candy, 2 pounds of gummy lights, a gallon of molasses, 50 pounds of powdered sugar, 80 candy canes, 6 boxes of holiday Nerds, and 250 Necco wafers. Together, they create enough sweet scaffolding to make the 2-foot deep, 3 foot high construction with 70 sugar-pane windows, illuminated by a bevy of lights inside (supplied by her electrician uncle, Thomas Ryan).
Over the summer, Galle was lured away from Nashville’s Thompson Hotel and their lauded restaurant, Marsh House, to become the Chequit’s first dedicated year-round pastry chef. Being at the helm of her own confectionary vision quests was a big draw, but so was the notion that Galle is no stranger to Shelter Island. Her mom, a realtor with Corcoran (and sometime gingerbread house architect), was raised on the island, Galle’s father spent summers here and many of her extended family members are nearby. And fun fact: Galle only recently learned that her Culinary Institute-trained uncle, William Ryan, once constructed a gingerbread replica of the Havens House, the home of Shelter Island’s Historical Society.
Says Galle: “We’re a crafty family!”
The Chequit gingerbread house will be on display in the main lobby of the hotel, located above the Tavern at 23 Grand Avenue in Shelter Island Heights. While this epic holiday hotel is made by hand, mixer and oven, it isn’t actually edible. To make gingerbread that can stand the test of the holiday season, it must be cooked a little longer than normal, Galle says. So while it might be tempting to sneak a piece, you’re better off nabbing something off the winter dessert menu if you want to sample this chef’s talents with sweet treats (her Rosemary Honey Creme Brûlée, Sticky Toffee Pudding with warm Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce and Fig Ice Cream or December-only Yule Log Cake are worth asking Santa for).